UNFPA Sri Lanka Representative Kunle Adeniyi (left) with CFW Founder and President Ajai Vir Singh
Violence against women can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time. The evidence shows that one in four (24.9%) women in Sri Lanka have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since age 15 in their lifetime (Women’s Wellbeing Survey, 2019).
Across the world and in Sri Lanka, UNFPA supports governments and women’s organisations to strengthen their response to violence against women and girls. Fashion, and Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) in particular, presents a powerful medium to advocate for a violence-free Sri Lanka for all women and girls. Apart from the opportunity for advocacy, the fashion industry consists of a workforce that is overwhelmingly represented by women.
In light of this, the partnership for 2022 goes a step further from the Fashion Week in itself and includes sensitisation on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) for the organisers, designers, models and crew of Colombo Fashion Week to ensure that all are respected and treated with dignity.
Speaking about this, UNFPA Sri Lanka Representative Kunle Adeniyi stated, “Fashion is how we present ourselves to the world but fashion is also a platform that can present the issues that affect women. Colombo Fashion Week gives us an opportunity to speak to people, especially in the fashion value chain, from the producers to the consumers, to make everybody an agent of change.”
Speaking about CFW, its Founder and President Ajai Vir Singh stated, “We are pleased to have UNFPA onboard with us for the second consecutive year. At CFW, we are committed to ensure that the fashion fraternity understands and prioritises social and environmental wellbeing and as such, we are happy to have UNFPA with us to address the issue on violence against women and girls. We consider women as an important fashion stakeholder and they must be respected in every way. This also aligns with our new garment evaluation tool – the Responsible Meter.”
UNFPA also continues its partnership with fashion designer Amilani Perera for the third consecutive year in 2022 to raise awareness on this issue through curated collections which will be showcased this year on Day 2 of CFW.
UNFPA advocates for a world free of violence against women and girls and a place where everyone has access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, so women can make informed choices about their body and life.